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Eye On Boise

Bill would eliminate catastrophic care program, fund community health centers instead

Here's a news item from the Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Two Republican senators want to eliminate Idaho's fund that helps pay the medical bills of indigent people, and instead shift part of the funds to community health centers to provide care. Sens. Steve Thayn of Emmett and Bob Nonini of Coeur d'Alene pitched the legislation on Monday. They sold it to lawmakers on the Health and Welfare Committee as a better way to treat low-income people without insurance than the existing Catastrophic Care Fund. The bill's introduction clears the way for a possible full hearing on the measure. Currently, state and county taxpayers combine to cover indigent people's medical bills. The cost has doubled since 2002, to $53 million annually. According to the senators' measure, it would transfer a portion of the money to community health centers, and counties could do the same, to help patients buy medication, get non-emergency medical services — and to provide volunteers at the centers with medical malpractice insurance.

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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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